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GENE'S BLOG: Achieving their goals

In his latest blog, Gene Principe writes about Milan and Brittany Lucic's plan to get the less fortunate to Oilers games for the rest of this season

by Gene Principe / Special to

Milan Lucic scored on Monday night in a 4-3 OT win against Arizona. A sold out crowd gave him a rousing ovation after he stopped a 29-game goalless streak. There were two people who wouldn't have been there to cheer on Lucic if it wasn't for Milan and his wife Brittany.

"Actually it was her idea," explained the Oilers number 27. The idea was to give those who are less fortunate or had some bad things happen in their life a chance to come to Rogers Place to watch the winger and his teammates play in the brand new home of the Edmonton Oilers. 

To do so, Milan and Brittany spread the word via social media. On Feb.15, Lucic sent out a message to his 100,000 Twitter followers. He asked people if they knew of a deserving individual who would like to attend an Oilers home game. Nominations were being accepted. On Feb. 23 Lucic, again through Twitter, thanked everyone who submitted those nominations and informed potential chosen candidates they would be contacted. They were and the lucky choices started attending games last Thursday vs. Nashville, Saturday against the NY Rangers and Monday night when Edmonton hosted Arizona. Anne Veltkamp took her son Winston to the game against the Predators while Sty Aziz brought his daughter Maliha to the matchup against the NY Rangers. 

Sty nominated his daughter because of what the family went through last summer.

"My wife, who is 33, was diagnosed with breast cancer," explained Aziz. "When summer began while kids were preparing for holidays or just playing outside, Maliha decided she wanted to help out her mom. She took on a lot of added responsibility. Taking her mom for walks, watching over her and also her younger brother. She was a big help to everyone."

As for her reaction when she found out Milan and Brittany had donated a pair of tickets so Maliha could watch her first NHL game, "she said to me you may not see it on the outside,"' explained her father. "But on the inside, I'm completely happy."

It's exactly what Mr. and Mrs. Lucic were striving to achieve.

"I know Brittany really looked at a lot of nominations," said one of the Oilers with an 'A'. "She wanted to find people who had been through a difficult time whether it be a death or illness or just difficult things happening in people's lives." 

Milan Lucic is now a husband and father and it won't be too long before he hits the big 30. However he remembers something from his own childhood like it was yesterday but it was more like a quarter century ago. From 1992-2003, Dragan Kesa played in the NHL. He was better known as Dan but Dragan is his Serbian name. Kesa played for six NHL teams. His nephew is Lucic.

"I remember going to see him when I was a kid," is how Lucic explained watching Uncle Dan play in the NHL. "It was great to go watch him play but we were from a middle class family and so we could only go see a very limited amount of games."

It was those memories made at hockey games that led Milan but more his wife Brittany to come up with a plan. The intent was to help kids have a game and a night to forget about what's not going right in their worlds. 

It is a clear example of Lucic being able to separate what happens on the ice to what happens in life. Being a good person never goes into a slump and isn't tied to your plus/minus or what totals you have under the G, A and Pts columns. The rugged winger, whose stare could send people scurrying to the nearest exit, has a soft side opponents aren't exposed to.

On Monday, Lucic scored one goal and achieved another one without lifting his stick but instead lifting the spirits of a child or a family in need of something good in their life. This will be the case for the remaining Oilers home games. That guarantees, win or lose, two people will be leaving Rogers Place happier than when they walked in and they have Milan and Brittany Lucic to thank for it. 

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